By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Photo by Heather X
Best Place to Feel Like You're Camping in Newport Gulfstream. Inside, Gulfstream offers the glass, wood and rock architectural clues that suggest you're eating at the parent company's Bandera (Corona del Mar) or Houston's (Irvine), or at the wildly upscale Claim Jumper at South Coast Plaza. But outside, on the Gulfstream patio, you're in New England, man, at someplace in the Berkshires in early fall. It's all warm light, open fire in rock pits, a sand-and-gravel floor and weathered Adirondack chairs. While the clientele looks distinctly Newport Center business-class (a lot of Friday-casual, cigar smoke, and BlackBerry communication), there's no meat-market vibe. The menu on the patio is limited—and thank God because, really, I don't want the steaming clam chowder you've balanced precariously on the arm of your Adirondack chair dumped in my lap—but the appetizers are solid and not outrageously priced; I'm just out of the camera's view, enjoying smoked trout on Saltines—yeah, I said Saltines—a cigar from Teri's (about which see our Santa Ana section). 850 Avocado Ave., Newport Beach, (949) 718-0187.
Best Place to Kill Stuff Davey's Locker. Each morning, before God is awake and watching, sportfishermen file onto the decks of these mobile killing platforms. By sunrise, their rails bristling with rods, these ships will be hauling in every live sea creature stupid enough to fall for the old bait-on-a-hook thing—most powerful evidence against evolution we've seen. It's a family event, all this killing, with dads shipping out alongside their boys—boys wearing shirts that say things like "I LOVE ANIMALS. THEY TASTE GOOD." You can join them—and the fishermen who prefer Newport Landing (same idea) just a few blocks up the street—for half-day, three-quarters and full-day runs, some ranging as far as Catalina (my favorite) and the end of the Sanitation District's poop pipe, a few miles off Huntington. Across the peninsula is the Dory Fish Market—"dory" being the nautical word for, like, tiny vessel, and "dorito" being a smaller, crunchier version of same—where hardy seafaring men haul their dories onto the sand, display their early morning catch (a lot of great halibut on a good day) and then head inland for, I don't know, some tofu. 400 Main St., Balboa, (949) 673-1434.
Best Thing to Savor Now While There's Still Time Cassidy's. Go there now, young scum, and have them grill up a burger for you while you've still got the leisure time to enjoy it and the digestive capacity to process it and the good luck to live within easy driving distance. Because one day you'll wake up in a bed far away and hear a sad and muffled gurgle from your sagging belly, and you'll realize how much time has suddenly passed, and then, for a moment, you might almost weep. Oh, get drunk while you're there, and then chase some slimy maybe-sex partner around too. Omnia vanitas, slut! 2603 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach, (949) 675-8949.
Best Dumb Business Idea Hooters on the Peninsula. We like the Hooters girls as much as the next guy—and the next guy is a really horny lesbian—but who thought charging men to eat around girls in shorts, T-shirts and these really awful libido-stalling nylons would work a mere two blocks from a beach in Southern California? This Hooters is gone now, a victim of the samples being given away for free nearby. But Hooters removed to a location farther inland, next to a La Quinta Inn in Costa Mesa that seems to cater to expense-account business travelers our dad's age, men whose sinister politics, rigorous churchgoing and treadmill marriages—we're just guessing—portend great things for Hooters next year.
Photo by Tenaya Hills
Best Gourmet Mexican Food According to the Mexican Taco Rosa. Ask for the aguas frescas, and instead of horchata, waiters will recommend a frosted, freshly squeezed cup of cantaloupe or melon. Most meals come with a mini-sweet corn tamale coated with a light strawberry cream and yellow-red tortillas that are fabuloso. The house salad is actually escabeche: pickled, peppered vegetables more common to coastal Mexico than the Sonora-style cuisine so familiar to Americans. But the most impressive thing about Taco Rosa, the factor that pushes it from the domain of the gabachos to the realm of a must-eat? The music: actual conjunto norteŮo on the speakers by icons such as Los Tigres del Norte and Los Rieleros del Norte. None of that Shakira shit. 2632 San Miguel Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 720-0980.
Best Cops Newport Beach Police Department. We've bagged on the Newport Beach PD, still remembering the time in the early '90s when they rolled to the scene of a reported shooting and gunned down the first black doctor they encountered before realizing the shooter was some frat boy from SC or something, the time they fabricated evidence in a traffic stop, the time that exceedingly gorgeous officer refused our offer to trade sex for leniency. But the Haidl case has changed our thinking about the men and women who serve the county's richest neighborhoods. When vacationers presented them with evidence—video—of young Greg Haidl and two of his buddies raping and pillaging an unconscious girl on a pool table, they could have done what most officials do when cornered: destroy the evidence. Haidl is, after all, the son of Don Haidl, a Newport Beach homeowner of immense wealth (as if that needed to be said) and at the time an assistant sheriff. Instead, they launched the investigation that, years later, put Haidl, Keith Spann and Kyle Nachreiner in the OC Jail.